How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds (Video)

Sunflower Harvest Seeds. After approximately 45 to 60 days from sowing, the sunflower will be in bloom and reaches maturity at about 120 days. Flowering lasts for about 1 month and during that time it will be constantly visited by pollinating insects and producing the highly prized sunflower seeds. In this article, I show you how to get the most out of your sunflower crop and how to harvest sunflower seeds, step by step with a video. Also, I include a section with tips on how to store the harvested sunflower seeds and roast them.

The problem that can arise, and which will drastically affect the yield of the sunflower crop, is recognizing when the sunflower seeds are ready to be harvested. So, how to know when sunflower seeds are ready to harvest? If we harvest early, there will be no pollination, so if we save those seeds for planting next season, those seeds will not germinate because they are not pollinated. Moreover, if we want to eat the sunflower seeds, they will be just shells with no nutrients or essential oils. That is why it is so important to identify when are sunflowers ready to harvest.

I encourage you to read this article to the end where I have included different harvesting methods depending on the number of sunflowers and the weather during harvest. At the end of the article, you will find a video where you will see the harvesting methods explained in this article. This way you will learn how to get the most out of your sunflower crop and harvest only the right way. Read on to learn how to harvest sunflower seeds.

When Are Sunflowers Ready to Harvest

The sunflower, Helianthus annuus, is an annual herbaceous plant belonging to the Asteraceae family, widely cultivated for oil processing and the production of sunflower seeds, which have important nutritional properties.

When it reaches maturity, the sunflower stops growing and following the movements of the sun, and faces east.

How to Know When Sunflower Seeds Are Ready to Harvest. You will notice that the sunflower stares down, and no longer follow the movement of the sun during the day. Then, its appearance begins to change. Sunflower leaves turn yellow followed by a brown color, and it is part of the sunflower’s life cycle, indicating that harvest time is near.

How to Know When Sunflower Seeds Are Ready to Harvest
How to Know When Sunflower Seeds Are Ready to Harvest

Note: Yellow leaves on sunflowers that appear well before harvest are an indicator of other problems. You can prevent yellow leaves and improve the yield of your sunflower crop. This is our recommended article Sunflower Leaves Yellowing: Why Are My Sunflowers Leaves Turning Yellow

When our sunflowers begin to dry, that is to say when the crown where the flower turns yellowish from behind and the seeds begin to darken, we will see that the sunflower begins to point downwards.

At this moment the sunflower has started to dry and is approaching the point of harvesting the sunflower seeds. However, it is yet a long way off.

Then, you will see the petals of the sunflower start to fade, the petals fall off and the sunflower seeds start to become more exposed. It is not yet time to harvest the sunflower seeds.

So, how to know when sunflower seeds are ready to harvest? Even if the sunflower seeds are black, it is not time to harvest the seeds until the sunflower head is completely dry.

How to Get Sunflowers Dry to Harvest Sunflower Seeds

At this point, we can apply different methods to collect sunflower seeds. There is no one method better than another, but the different options for harvesting sunflower seeds are equally good, and opting for one or the other is just for practicality depending on how many sunflowers we have to harvest and how is the weather during the harvesting time. How to Get Sunflowers Dry to Harvest Sunflower Seeds:

How to Get Sunflowers Dry to Harvest Sunflower Seeds: Option 1 – Wait for the plant to dry out.

How to Get Sunflowers Dry to Harvest Sunflower Seeds: Option 2 – Just cut off the sunflower heads and dry the flower, instead of waiting for the whole plant to dry. This option is recommended when there is excessive moisture during the sunflower seed harvest period, between late summer and early fall, due to continuous thunderstorms that could ruin the sunflower seeds. Cut leaving about 5″-8″ (15-20 cm) of the stalk.

Regardless of whether we choose to wait until the plant dries out or cut and dry the sunflower heads, we again have two options for harvesting. Again, the choice of one method or the other depends on the number of sunflowers we have to harvest sunflower seeds.

How to Get Sunflowers Dry to Harvest Sunflower Seeds: Option A – Place a paper bag or woven cloth mesh covering the sunflower heads. This can be in option 1 (whole plant waiting to dry) or it can be in option 2, on each cut sunflower head. An advantage of the method of harvesting sunflower seeds using paper bags is that we prevent birds from eating the sunflower seeds. And the seeds that dry and fall off naturally remain in the bag. The sunflower heads can be hung upside down, with a closed paper bag in a ventilated area, to facilitate drying. You will find that many sunflower seeds fall into the bag or mesh netting. Do not use nylon bags, we aim to promote good aeration and avoid any type of condensation.

How to harvest sunflower seeds, step by step with video. When Are Sunflowers Ready to Harvest. How to Know When Sunflower Seeds Are Ready to Harvest. How to Store Sunflower Seeds.
Sunflower Harvest Seeds. How to Get Sunflowers Dry to Harvest Sunflower Seeds – Place a paper bag or woven cloth mesh covering the sunflower heads. You may place this in the sunflower heads having the whole plant waiting to dry or it just cut the sunflower head and place it in the paper bag in a ventilated place. An advantage of the method of harvesting sunflower seeds using paper bags is that we prevent birds from eating the sunflower seeds. And the seeds that dry and fall off naturally remain in the bag. The sunflower heads can be hung upside down, with a closed paper bag in a ventilated area, to facilitate drying. You will find that many sunflower seeds fall into the bag or mesh netting. Do not use nylon bags, we aim to promote good aeration and avoid any type of condensation. Cutting the heads is useful when harvesting during rainy days.

How to Get Sunflowers Dry to Harvest Sunflower Seeds: Option B – No paper bags. Let dry naturally, in the sun. In general, for large-scale cultivation, this option is chosen. 

The big disadvantage of using the paper bag wrapping the sunflower is that with the rains and the temperate climate, the paper bag develops fungus and is a risk for our sunflowers that can rot.

How to Know When Sunflower Seeds Are Ready to Harvest. In both cases, we will leave it for a couple of weeks to dry the sunflower heads very well. As the sunflower dries the seeds begin to turn black. This indicates that the sunflower seeds are ready to be harvested.

Let’s see how to harvest sunflower seeds and obtain the seeds either to consume or to plant next season.

How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds

We have already seen how to dry the sunflower heads and we have also explained in detail when and how we realize that the sunflower is ready to be harvested. Now, we will proceed to explain in this step-by-step video how to harvest sunflower seeds.

Step by Step How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds with Video

  1. Verify that the sunflower heads are perfectly dry.
  2. Check that the sunflower seeds are black. When Are Sunflowers Ready to Harvest: If the sunflower head is dry and the seeds are black, this indicates that the sunflower seeds are ready to be harvested.
  3. It is convenient to prepare a table with paper (it can be a newspaper).
  4. Rub the flower gently to remove any dried flower debris.
  5. Proceed to remove the remaining flowers, blossoms, and petals from around the sunflower. This will save us a lot of cleaning, so we are removing everything around that just leave impurities. It is convenient to blow out the remaining impurities and keep our work area clear.
  6. Very gently on the newspaper and the impurities will be removed.
  7. Keep a strainer handy to sift out the impurities and make the sunflower seed harvest cleaner.
  8. All the sunflower seeds that we harvest are good for us to consume but if we want to obtain seeds to sow in the next season we must reserve large seeds, located in the outer ring of the sunflower that is the best. It is only necessary to reserve some that have the outer shell intact.
  9. If the sunflower is too small or if the seed is pollinated, we are not interested in obtaining these seeds for planting. It can only be used for eating, for us, or birds.
  10. You will notice that the seeds inside are less developed and even some of them have not been well pollinated. That is why the sunflower seeds inside the center are not used to obtain the seeds for planting sunflowers.
  11. How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds. To harvest the sunflower seeds, simply pinch off the seeds, which will come off easily if the sunflower is dry.  Release the seeds by rubbing the flower on a piece of newspaper.
  12. If you have previously removed the outer impurities, such as flowers and petals, as previously mentioned, you will see that very little impurity will come off during the harvesting of sunflower seeds.
  13. Remove any remaining flower debris.
  14. Help yourself with a colander or sieve to remove impurities from time to time and set aside the cleaned seeds. You can remove them with your hands if they are large, blow them gently or use a sieve.
  15. Discard seeds in bad condition.
  16. Do not save the seeds yet. Leave the harvested seeds on sheets of newspaper, and spread them out to dry for a few more days.
  17. To keep the seeds properly we must avoid humidity.
  18. After drying the seeds for a few days, we recommend transferring the harvested sunflower seeds to a clean, dry glass jar that we will initially leave uncovered for about 2 days and then place the lid on the jar.
  19. Store the sunflower seeds in a cool dark place. Any store the seeds if they are completely dry in jars and a dry place. This process can be done to preserve the seeds for eating and planting sunflowers in the next season.
Sunflower Harvest Seeds. How to harvest sunflower seeds, step by step with video. When Are Sunflowers Ready to Harvest. How to Know When Sunflower Seeds Are Ready to Harvest. How to Store Sunflower Seeds.
How to Harvest Sunflower SeedsWhen Are Sunflowers Ready to Harvest: If the sunflower head is dry and the seeds are black, this indicates that the sunflower seeds are ready to be harvested
Sunflower Harvest Seeds. How to harvest sunflower seeds, step by step with video. When Are Sunflowers Ready to Harvest. How to Know When Sunflower Seeds Are Ready to Harvest. How to Store Sunflower Seeds.
Sunflower Harvest SeedsSimply pinch off the seeds, which will come off easily if the sunflower is dry.  Release the seeds by rubbing the flower on a piece of newspaper. Help yourself with a colander or sieve to remove impurities from time to time. Discard seeds in bad condition. Leave the harvested seeds on sheets of newspaper, and spread them out to dry for a few more days. To keep the seeds properly we must avoid humidity.

Check out this video and see how to harvest sunflower seeds with these different methods

Let’s see how to store the harvested sunflower seeds and roast them.

How to Store Sunflower Seeds

After all the laborious processes we have gone through from planting to harvesting, it is important to understand how to preserve the sunflower seeds.

How to Store Sunflower Seeds. It is best to store harvested sunflower seeds after they are completely dry, free of moisture, and protected from humidity and high temperature. We recommend storing sunflower seeds in an airtight container.

  • Sunflower seeds (which may or may not be roasted) can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator or freezer (protected from light and moisture).
  • Roasted seeds are best stored in the refrigerator and can be kept for several weeks.
  • Unroasted seeds can be kept for several months in the refrigerator or freezer and last longer in the freezer.

How to Roast Sunflower Seeds for Eating

How to Roast Sunflower Seeds for Eating. After harvesting sunflower seeds, you can prepare them roasted and salted to taste for storing and eating that way. It is very easy. here is our recipe for roasting sunflower seeds.

  1. Prepare a solution made with half a gallon of water (2 liters) and 60 grams of salt. You will have to adjust the amount of salt depending on whether you want a more intensely salty recipe or not. If you wish you can also use modified salt to consume less sodium chloride in your diet.
  2. Proceed to soak the sunflower seeds overnight in the prepared salt water solution.
  3. If you prefer a slightly faster method, you can boil the sunflower seeds for 2 hours instead of soaking them overnight in the prepared salt water solution.
  4. Then, proceed to drain the sunflower seeds on a dry absorbent paper towel or clean cloth to remove excess water.
  5. Finally, we will prepare the seeds for roasting in the oven. Heat the oven to an oven temperature of 300 F (149 C). On a shallow baking sheet spread the seeds in a single layer and bake them in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes. Stir the seeds from time to time to dry them and get an even toasting.
  6. Once the baking time is over, let them cool and you will have toasted sunflower seeds ready to eat and store properly.
how to harvest sunflowers Sunflower Harvest Seeds.
Sunflower Harvest Seeds
About Julia Morgan

We are the Morgan family, Henry, and Julia, both agronomists from the University of Michigan, where we met. We are experts in putting our hands in the soil and developing organic foods and improving production processes for decades. Likewise, we have worked for companies such as Mondelez International, BASF, Monsanto, etc. currently in our role as science writers for TheGardenStyle.com as well as advisors in promoting large scale food growing in urbanized areas. In this website, we share what we are most passionate about, gardening and farming. Enjoy and see real photos on our website. We hope that all our advice will be useful to you and that you will become an expert gardener.